Tag Archives: character with character

Kalypsonian of the Year

10 Sep

I get a lot of email. On rare occasions, I get an email that has a meaningful impact on my life.

Seven years ago a former colleague of mine sent me such an email. It was a short note referring his younger cousin as a potential candidate for our new and growing innovation consulting firm. She didn’t have much to offer in the way of relevant business experience, but my friend assured me that she had a strong character and was willing to work hard to make a difference. We needed help, and she didn’t make much money, so we took a chance and offered her a job.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. Hiring Pamela Soin is not one of them. She joined the team as a smart, inexperienced young lady a couple of years out of college and quickly made herself indispensable. In the intervening years we have traveled the world together, serving clients in exciting cities like Seoul, Sydney, San Diego, Amsterdam and even Appleton, Wisconsin. We have shared a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and more than a few tears.

Watching her grow into an accomplished professional advisor with personal eminence and business stature has been one the great privileges of my career. Some moments in life create indelible memories. My repertoire of stories from a twenty-year career in consulting is pretty large. Pam is the principal actor in many of the best and funniest stories I have in my collection. She is one of the original Kalypso “characters with character”.

The Kalypsonian of the Year award is reserved each year for the team member that embodies the ideals of the Kalypso consultant; that leader behind the leader that demonstrates a healthy lack of respect for hierarchy and positional authority. Pamela Soin believes that innovation combined with action can change the world for the better. She is passionate about what she does and knows how to have fun at work – and after. Most importantly, she genuinely cares about the success of her colleagues and goes to extraordinary lengths to help them. Pam is a true professional and a personal role model for us all.

After seven years I am honored to call her a colleague, a friend, and our 2012 Kalypsonian of the Year.

KARMA

8 Sep

In late August of 2005 a small band of characters gathered in Austin, Texas to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the founding of their innovation consulting firm. Kalypso had just completed its first year and we were still alive. We were an ambitious bunch with dreams of changing the world and the consulting industry. In reality, we had no idea what we were doing. We weren’t making much money, but we were certainly having fun.

This weekend we are celebrating our eighth year of craziness at Kalypso’s KARMA 2012 in Washington, DC. We have moved from the capital of Texas to the capital of the United States. (Some would say that is a step down.) There are 130 people here from countries all over the world and the energy and enthusiasm is infectious. The Kalypso Difference is on display as our work hard, play hard mantra is put to the test. The two major political party conventions have nothing on this event. I’d vote for us.

What is KARMA? Well, karma is what you make it. For me, Kalypso’s KARMA is a celebration of our shared values, a recommitment to our mission of delivering on the promise of innovation, and an opportunity to spend some quality time with our colleagues and closest friends. I love every minute of it.

The story of Kalypso is the story of its people. The annual human histogram at KARMA highlights the dynamic growth of the firm and is a source of tremendous pride in the accomplishments and development of our team. We celebrate promotions, recognize success, and announce the recipient of the coveted “Kalypsonian of the Year” award. Who will it be this year?

KARMA is still what you make it. This year we are making it bigger and better than ever. We continue our quest to change the world and the industry is taking note. Let your voice be heard. Vote Kalypso!

The Hokey Pokey

18 Apr

Van Gresham claims that he does not do the hokey-pokey during Virginia Tech football games. For a proud Hokie that invests considerable sums of time, energy and money into pre-game tailgating festivities, this is a little hard to believe. They play the hokey-pokey at Virginia Tech because you can dance without having to speak with an actual female. At an engineering school this is a big deal. All that talk of differential y and differential x doesn’t leave much room for actual sex. Given the odds stacked against him in this department, let’s just say that Van “got lucky.” I am sure that his wife, Chesley, will agree.

Born and schooled in Virginia and living in North Carolina, the boy knows how to cook a pig. I have enjoyed the product of this particular skill. He may have gotten a little above his raisin’ in the beverage department as he pairs his grilled pork tenderloin with fine California cabernets. Not what you would expect from a pedigreed hillbilly.

In addition to his culinary and rhythmic abilities, he has dedicated himself to raising money for brain cancer research as a participant in “Angels Among Us” which supports the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at (take a deep breath and look past the ACC rivalry) Duke University. Family is apparently more important than football.

I have enjoyed watching Van grow as a professional and develop into a trusted advisor to his clients at Kalypso. Not only do they count on him to get things done, they seem to like him quite a bit as well. His greatest strength is his character. It shows up day to day in his client service work. You can learn more about him here.

The Chipster

23 Mar

When the history of Kalypso is written, there will be a chapter devoted to Chip Perry. He bought his first crappy sports coat after watching “The Paper Chase” in 1973 and he hasn’t taken it off since. Seriously, you can ask his wife. Chip is the central character of so many of the most memorable moments of our Firm’s young life that it is difficult to limit the scope of my comments. Here a few of my favorites.

In September 2010 we held KARMA, our annual gathering, in New Orleans and a very good time was had by all. There were about 75 people in a hotel conference room during one of our general session meetings and the professorial Mr. Perry was comfortably leaning back in his chair against a wall reading the New York Times (Krugman, no doubt). Next to him was seated the ever-attentive and quite lovely Ms. Emily Adams. Apparently Chip’s seat was a little too comfortable because he fell asleep during a presentation (that I was giving), fell and grasped and groped on the nearest stable object on his way down. Poor Miss Emily. Gentleman that he is Chip simply pretended that nothing unusual had happened.

Chip loves his GPS device and it never fails – to get him lost. Twice in a single month he picked me up at the airport in Minneapolis for important client meetings and then relied on his GPS to drive us to the wrong building in the wrong part of town. We were very late both times. On another occasion several of us watched Chip drive to within 200 feet of the entrance to the parking lot at a Firm event, pull over, and call us to say that he was hopelessly lost. We didn’t have the heart to seize the opportunity to truly mess with him. But we were tempted.

Ask him about his old Volvo, his Las Vegas experience, his natural ability with firearms, or his English degree (“you do the math”). He may be a little scatterbrained and he may wear corduroy jackets with leather elbow patches, but he is also universally loved and admired. Read more about one of our favorite characters with character here. Chip makes the heart of Kalypso beat strong. In many ways he is the heart of Kalypso. He is our friend. I would go to war with him. I just wouldn’t let him drive.

Mike Versus the Mountain

6 Mar

“Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?” – Milton

It is always sunny in Mike Friedman’s world – even on a cloudy day.

My relationship with him has come full circle. Mike’s extended interview with Kalypso was a three-day ski trip in Beaver Creek. And now, five years later, we set out to conquer the Canadian Rockies on an epic heli-ski trip. Mike is an intrepid skier, but it turns out that his hamstring is no match for waist-deep powder and tree-filled 75-degree slopes. He spent the final few days in the lodge curled up with his email inbox and good(?) Canadian wine. If you expect that after three years of planning this would cause him to show some disappointment, then you do not know Mike. If “silver lining” is a metaphor for optimism and positivism, the lining of Mike’s clouds must be made of gold.

I am proud to call Mike my partner. He is the keeper of the Kalypso flame and sets the bar for what it means to be a partner. We have the great privilege of working with our closest friends every day and building lifelong relationships with our colleagues. Mike’s ski injury just means that we have to go back and do it again next year. I intend to introduce him to Vitamin I.

Read his Character with Character profile by clicking here.

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